Selling county hospital a huge decisionPublished 12:03am Sunday, August 11, 2013
In three days’ time, Adams County Supervisors will consider public opinion on what arguably will be the biggest county decision of our lifetimes.
The potential sale of county-owned Natchez Regional Medical Center is a subject that sparks great emotion to many residents. Hospitals by their nature are often the location of some of life’s greatest and most tragic moments.
Generations of Natchez children have been born at NRMC — including my own daughter.
For thousands of local residents, the hospital is also the location where parents and grandparents left this earth.
It’s that guttural, raw emotion that makes anything related to the hospital somewhat of a touchy subject.
For many older residents, the hospital will always be Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital, the name it was given in 1957.
Hospital leaders changed the name in 1993 to be more politically correct as well as to more properly place the hospital’s regional impact front and center.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the county will have a public hearing to listen to any feedback from the public on the county’s decision to sell the hospital.
After hearing any public concerns, the county will then create and publish a request for proposals that would-be buyers must meet in order to have their bids considered.
This is when things should get even more interesting.
Hospital and county leaders seem to be constantly moving at least one or two steps ahead of the state-mandated process. For example, they hired a consultant to help them sell the hospital before receiving the feasibility study that ultimately recommended selling.
Of course, for the group doing the study, it was a given that the hospital’s owners want to sell the facility so the feasibility study was merely a formality that was required by law. For the most part the study’s creators simply gave their clients what they wanted — a piece of paper that said, “Sell.”
That said, almost certainly the consultant and the hospital board have begun crafting the RFP based on what they feel is best for the community.
It’s difficult to know what all will be included in the RFP at this point:
-Job guarantees for a year or two?
-Requirements to bring a certain number of physicians to the area?
-Additional specialist physicians brought on staff?
-A new hospital building?
Residents need to be thinking about these things and asking themselves, “What do we want from the sale of Natchez Regional?”
Is the sale just about the money or removing the potential burden off taxpayers — who at the moment provide a guaranty on the hospital’s debt?
The hospital’s board of trustees has begun publicly sharing what they want in a new video, shared last week with members of the business community.
You can view the video at:
The video is professionally created. It’s beautiful, but it’s also important to realize that it’s part-propaganda, too.
The video suggests a new partnership (new owner) could bring a new hospital facility, double the physicians we have now and create 1,000 new jobs.
If any of that actually comes to fruition as part of the sales process, it would be truly amazing, fabulous even. But if those are the goals, they all need to be in writing so citizens know exactly what they have on the line — and what they stand to gain — in the sale.
The sale is a huge decision and one that needs to not be taken lightly.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.